Ehrmann commissions Kardex Mlog to modernize and expand its production facilities
18 November 2021, Company News
Yogurt production goes uninterrupted as Kardex Mlog constructs a four-aisle high-bay warehouse
Yogurt Non-Stop: Retrofit during ongoing operations
Neuenstadt, 18.10.2021 – As part of a major refurbishment and expansion project, Kardex Mlog increased the storage capacities at Molkerei Ehrmann‘s headquarters in Oberschönegg, Germany. Kardex Mlog also improved the plant availability and optimized the material flow.
The family-owned dairy company, Ehrmann, has always been a loyal customer to the dairy farmers in the Allgäu region of southern Germany. The company’s relationships with the milk producers have been in place for an average of 27 years. Ehrmann maintains similar long-term relationships with its technology partners. At the same time, when the company makes new investments, it invites tenders from a range of manufacturers and gives an opportunity to new suppliers. This was the case in 2018 when Ehrmann decided to refurbish and expand the logistics plant at its headquarters in Oberschönegg, Germany. Although the existing plant had been constructed by other suppliers, the main contract was awarded to Kardex Mlog. “We were very impressed with the intelligent conversion concept and the technology offered by Kardex Mlog,” remembers Dr. Manfred Grüneberg, Head of Technical Projects and Process Optimization at Ehrmann SE. In addition, the new provider was already known to Ehrmann as a result of successful projects at other customers.
Spare parts no longer available
The project covered a four-aisle, high-bay warehouse with approximately 6,000 pallet storage spaces and an extensive retrofit of the existing plant during ongoing operations. The team was responsible for the complete refurbishment of nine stacker cranes and updating the automation systems for the current conveying technology.
It was necessary to refurbish the existing plant because the control technology had become obsolete and various spare parts were no longer available. The new high-bay warehouse needed to accommodate the operating materials stored at other locations up to this point. The large-scale project was completed by installing new safety technology.
Work only possible at weekends
In December 2018, following a two-month planning and preparations phase, Kardex Mlog began the refurbishment operation. Due to Ehrmann’s operating processes and because it was manufacturing at full capacity, Kardex Mlog was restricted to only work on the refurbishment during the weekends. Adding to the complex situation, it was only possible to work in specifically defined areas of the existing plant on Saturdays
and Sundays. “At Ehrmann, our production has absolute priority,” says Uwe Gilke, who, together with Matthias Rogowski, was responsible for the project. “Initially, it was important to reassure employees that, following our weekend shifts, everything was still working as normal.”
The retrofit work affected primarily the control technology of the various conveying systems and of the existing high-bay warehouse. Following the conversion, all automated areas are now managed via programmable logic controllers (PLC) of type Simatic S7-1500. “All storage areas now work with an integrated, standard concept, which greatly simplifies user operation,” states Rogowski.
Efficient power consumption
In addition to the ergonomic improvements, the measures taken also increased plant availability and plant efficiency: discontinued components were replaced by the latest technology in order to ensure high spare parts availability and fast delivery times. Also, nine of the existing stacker cranes were fitted with energy feedback equipment.
Kardex Mlog installed a completely new automated conveying system to connect the new high-bay warehouse (Warehouse 4) with the adjoining high-bay warehouse (Warehouse 3) and the manually operated Warehouse 2. Here, on three storage levels, approximately 70 conveyors are in operation and include transfer cars, vertical conveyors, scissor lift tables, 3-track chain conveyors, roller conveyors and corner transfers. Kardex Mlog also supplied the fire barriers and high-speed doors.
Reduced forklift traffic
The seamless integration of the new conveying lines into the complex structures with their emergency strategies and bypass functions was one of the challenges involved in this ambitious project. The entire material flow had to be adapted and interfaces created to the Ehrmann warehouse management systems. But all the effort has paid off. “The new automated conveying system has meant that we have been able to reduce a significant amount of the forklift traffic between Warehouses 2 and 3,” explains Kardex Mlog project leader Matthias Rogowski.
After successfully completing the refurbishment, Kardex Mlog began constructing the 4-aisle high-bay warehouse in March 2019. The 70 meter-long, 32 meter-wide and 20 meter-high building provides space for 6,000 Euro pallets or 3,980 industrial pallets, which can be stored double-deep. These are handled by four stacker cranes of type M Single A-1200, each of which has a capacity of 24 double cycles per hour. The 17 meter-high devices were installed via an opening in the building’s roof. The commands to store and retrieve pallets are sent to the machines from Ehrmann’s warehouse management system.
During the construction phase, Ehrmann made the decision to use the new storage capacity to house not only operating materials, as originally intended, but also finished products. “This extended use of the warehouse for chilled storage did not represent a problem for the technology,” emphasizes Rogowski, who liaised closely with the client and the project partners throughout the construction period. “We made many changes to the project requirements along the way and Kardex Mlog always implemented these quickly and without any problems,” confirms Dr. Grüneberg. Summary: As a result of the extensive retrofit and extension measures, Ehrmann now benefits from maximum plant availability and an integrated and transparent control structure. Also, the material flow has been optimized and supplementary components added. The newly constructed high-bay warehouse offers flexibility that caters to operating materials, packaging materials, and finished products.
Background: Ehrmann SE
Ehrmann SE, headquartered in Oberschönegg in the Allgäu region of southern Germany, is one of the largest milk processing companies in Germany. Internationally, the company has six production facilities and sales offices. Established in 1920, the company sells products under the Ehrmann brand in more than 70 countries. With more than 2,400 employees, the owner-operated company achieved revenues of more than 810 million euros in 2019.
In addition to the parent company, the Ehrmann Group owns the following companies: Molkerei Hainichen-Freiberg, Gabler Saliter, Fleischwerke Zimmermann, Milchfrisch Vertriebs-GmbH, OOO Ehrmann Russia, and Trevo Lacteos S.A. in Brazil. For more information, see www.ehrmann.de
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Über Kardex Mlog
Kardex Mlog (www.kardex.com) with a head office in Neuenstadt am Kocher, Germany, is one of the leading suppliers of integrated material flow systems and high-bay warehouses. The company has more than 50 years of experience in the planning, implementation and maintenance of fully automated logistics solutions. The three business sectors - Greenfield Installation, Modernization and Life Cycle Service – draw upon its in-house manufacturing facility in Neuenstadt. Kardex Mlog is part of the Kardex Group and employs 290 people. In 2020 the company achieved revenues of €73 million.
MLOG Logistics GmbH
74196 Neuenstadt am Kocher
Tel.: +49 7139 / 4893-536
Fax: +49 7139 / 4893-99 536
Tel.: +49 7139 / 4893-536